Ruto Terms Parliament Breach as Treasonous, Orders Investigations

President William Ruto speaking in January 8, 2023
President William Ruto speaking in January 8, 2023

President William Ruto has labelled the recent anti-finance bill protests as 'treasonous' and directed security forces to ensure the safety of all Kenyans. 

Breaking his silence from State House Nairobi on Tuesday evening, Ruto vowed to investigate the events that led to protesters breaking into Parliament buildings and warned against those he described as financiers of the unrest.

Addressing the nation, President Ruto emphasised the need to distinguish between criminal activity and the constitutional right to protest. "We must separate criminals from people exercising their constitutional right of expression,” he stated.

Ruto reassured citizens of his administration's commitment to peace and security amidst growing concerns over the government's treatment of protesters. 

"I have directed all organs of our national security to deploy measures to thwart any attempts by dangerous criminals to undermine the security and stability of our country. As the people of Kenya go to bed tonight, I give you my assurance that the safety of your families and properties remains my utmost priority,” he asserted.

Activist Kasmuel McOure, also known as Kaskazini, during protests in Nairobi CBD.
Activist Kasmuel McOure, also known as Kaskazini, during protests in Nairobi CBD.

The protests, sparked by the controversial Finance Bill 2024, have resulted in significant violence. Amnesty International reported that five people have been fatally shot while aiding the injured during the demonstrations. Additionally, 31 individuals have sustained injuries: 13 from live bullets, four from rubber bullets, three struck by launcher canisters, and 11 with minor injuries.

The Kenya Red Cross confirmed that several of its staff were wounded in the unrest, highlighting the increasing danger faced by both protesters and humanitarian workers. “Our vehicles have been attacked. Staff and volunteers injured,” a Red Cross statement revealed.

President Ruto’s address comes as the nation grapples with the fallout from the protests, which have rocked the country for three days since last week. His administration faces mounting scrutiny over its response to the demonstrations, which many Kenyans believe are justified expressions of discontent with the new tax proposals.

"We must isolate crime from democratic expression... I shall continue to lead a government that is fully committed to maintaining the integrity of our state, promoting the unity of our nation, and enhancing the peace and security of all citizens and their livelihoods,” Ruto declared, reinforcing his stance against what he perceives as threats to national stability.

The Finance Bill 2024, which proposes new taxes that many Kenyans view as excessively burdensome, has been the catalyst for the widespread unrest. As protests continue, the government's heavy-handed approach has drawn criticism both domestically and internationally.

Ruto’s commitment to investigate the protests' financiers points to his administration’s strategy to clamp down on what he describes as criminal elements within the demonstrators.

 However, this stance has been met with scepticism by human rights groups and opposition leaders, who argue that the government is using security concerns to justify suppression of legitimate dissent.

As the situation unfolds, the call for dialogue and restraint grows louder, with many urging the government to engage with protesters and address their grievances through peaceful means. 

The international community continues to monitor the developments closely, stressing the importance of upholding democratic principles and human rights.

For now, we wait to see how President Ruto’s strong rhetoric and directives will be deployed on planned protests on Wednesday.

A screengrab of parliament building on fire
A screengrab of parliament building on fire
Citizen Digital
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